…and did ATS hit the nail on the head with that line or what?
The obvious good news here is that our boys are finally in the win column. The obvious bad news is that it took this much of an effort against a team that is nowhere near pay-off status. That said, off we go….
Up front, here is one game observation:
Thank whoever you choose to worship for Tony Parker tonite. His 55 points were not only a career high, but he also found time to dole out 10 assists. Only Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson have accomplished that feat before Frenchy. Very nice.
Some T-Wolves Stuff:
The atmosphere at the beginning of this game was almost unreal – eerily quiet with a bunch of empty seats. You could hear the coaches and players yelling pretty clearly at times. It had the feel of a pre-season game, or perhaps one of those late season playing out the string games. That changed later, but early on, it was very quiet in there.
Does Mike Miller have his tongue pierced? Sure looked like it to me on a couple of up close shots. Just asking.
Did anyone know that Kevin Love can throw a chest pass the full length of the court? I followed him in college and it is kind of an amazing feat if you see it. Typically, once a game, you will see him wrist-whip a long out of bounds pass out after a made basket. He did it once last night, then ran down the court to collect a pass and nail a three.
One of the guy’s in a jacket and tie behind the T-Wolves bench was little used Center Calvin Booth. Can’t believe this guy still draws a check in the NBA, but he did go to the same High School as I did.
Jim Petersen, the game analyst for the Timberwolves TV network, admitted that he had never head of George Hill’s alma mater, IUPUI. OK, so maybe the place isn’t universally known, but if you are a professional in the sport…….maybe just don’t admit that you didn’t know that on TV, OK?
Onto the Game:
The first quarter of this game was flat brutal. Neither team could hit a shot other than Tony for us and Mike Miller for them. It took until the 3:30 mark of the first quarter for someone other than Frenchy to score for the Spurs. That happened on a Roger Mason free throw after a defensive three-seconds call. Both teams shot something near 30% for the first, which ended at 18 a piece. George Hill came off the bench as Parker’s replacement rather than the JV for the first time this season.
Minnesota was a little quicker to pick up the tempo as the second quarter moved on. Their second unit brought some hustle as they began to out work the Spurs for offensive rebounds and loose balls. Kevin Love manufactured a couple of these with Oberto-esque tip outs. This represented the continuance of an alarming trend of second chance opportunities that the Spurs have been giving up so far this year. Timberwolves opened up a six point advantage in the second and Tony is the only Spur with a pulse, as he gets to the line on two consecutive trips while twisting Sebastian Telfair into knots. Telfair’s only choice on these two trips is to clobber Tony as if he were Manu Ginobili in Denver.
At the six minute mark of the second, the Spurs are down 36-28 and a bunch of us are probably throwing up in our mouths a little. I know I was. Roger Mason gives the Spurs a little hope down the stretch of the first half and Timmy finally makes a few hoops to pull within four at the break. The bad news here is that Minne puts up 31 in the second quarter. Second chance points off the offensive glass are killing the Spurs.
Roger Mason starts the second half for the Spurs again – perhaps he is the new Manu Ginobili? Like everybody else, I like Roger out there. Is it me, or does it seem like the only runs the Spurs have made this season have come with him on the floor?
What I didn’t like about the Third is Popovich trying to put Mike Finley on Kevin Love. On four straight possessions of that, the Wolves got two lay-ups and two give up hacks by the Fin-Dog. In the early part of the quarter, Minne keeps their lead by continually outworking the Spurs. We are just flat giving up too many open looks and too many offensive rebounds. That’s one thing, but its too often coupled with too many stale possessions and too many clanged open looks.
Things do begin to look up in the back half of the third as Parker continues to torch whoever draws him. They tried Brewer, McCants, Foye and Telfair in this game, all pretty much met the same fate. Roger Mason also checks back and brings a few makes with him. His jumper draws the Spurs even at 68 with 2 minutes left in the third.
Here is a tell tail sign of this game and of the Spurs problems so far this year: Over the course of the second half, the Spurs hit on 10 shots in a row and score on something like 14 out of 15 possessions and still they are tied with 3:30 to go in the fourth. This is basically all Tony Parker, with a little bit of Tim and Roger Mason thrown in at this point. For every hustle play and second chance point and shot made by the Timberwolves, the Spurs have an answer…and that answer is #9 putting someone in the popcorn popper. Parker finished the game shooting 22 of 36. WOW.
The game sees and saws with Duncan finally getting in a groove hitting a couple of shots down the stretch. Minnesota continues to match us and regulation ends with Roger Mason calmly nailing a bank shot with 2 seconds left to tie the game.
These overtime periods were tough. I can’t believe that the Spurs legs held together. The Timberwolves played very hard and very well in this game and could have very easily won this game. However, this was not to be their night. The Spurs FINALLY got a second chance point early in the first OT when Roger Mason hit a free throw off a possession when Timmy got an offensive rebound. The first OT ends with Tim nailing two clutch free throws, Al Jefferson hitting an impossible jump hook and then Tony canning the jumper of the night to keep the game alive. He took a hand-off from Ime Udoka and straight-up nailed a long two from the wing at the buzzer….so we play on.
In the second OT, Parker kept it going with three more baskets and 3 out of 4 at the free throw line. Al Jefferson hit a pair of shots and Randy Foye hit a three ball to bring Minne back to within a point with 35 seconds to play. On that one, Fin-Dog missed a rotation when Oberto doubled down on Al Jefferson. I thought Pop was gonna kill him in the time out that followed. Fortunately, Parker hit both free throws when fouled and the T-Wolves went to a cold Rashad McCants who missed a three to tie the game. Then, the remarkable happened – the Spurs sealed the game when Tony Parker chased down the rebound.
It should be noted that the Spurs shot 7 of 8 free throws in the overtime periods and went 23 of 28 for the game.
In addition to Parker’s double nickel, Tim had 30 and Roger Mason chipped in 26. No other Spur scored in double figures. Ime Udoka had eight. Mason and Miller had 30 and 25 respectively for the Timberwolves. Some other items: Bruce Bowen finally played in the second half and logged a whopping 33 minutes. Bonner started the game and played only six minutes. Not much of Kurt Thomas in this game as well. He played just over 12 minutes. George Hill played very well in a few stretches off the bench after miserably clanking his first shot attempt. Somehow Mike Finley led the Spurs with a +12.
Its nice to get a win and all, but right now the Spurs do not look at all like one of the top teams in the league, conference or their division, frankly. I’m going to assume that the defensive intensity will pick-up. It always does. The part that we had better fix quick is defensive rebounding, so if you want to find a button to hit for this team, hit that one.